Obama’s Non-Climate Climate Pitch

The White House is touting cuts in pollution that hitches a ride with carbon emissions.

President Obama makes his way to board Marine One last month on the South Lawn of the White House.
National Journal
Ben Geman
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Ben Geman
May 31, 2014, 3:16 a.m.

Pres­id­ent Obama offered a small de­tail Sat­urday about the big EPA draft reg­u­la­tions com­ing Monday to cut car­bon emis­sions from power plants.

“In just the first year that these stand­ards go in­to ef­fect, up to 100,000 asthma at­tacks and 2,100 heart at­tacks will be avoided — and those num­bers will go up from there,” Obama said in his weekly ad­dress.

But those im­me­di­ate health be­ne­fits that reg­u­lat­ors are fore­cast­ing have noth­ing to do with lower­ing car­bon emis­sions that con­trib­ute to glob­al warm­ing.

In­stead, Obama’s talk­ing about oth­er kinds of smokestack pol­lu­tion — smog-form­ing emis­sions and soot — that hitch a ride with car­bon.

Obama’s ad­dress sug­gests that tout­ing these near-term “co-be­ne­fits” of re­du­cing car­bon emis­sions from coal-fired power plants will be a big part of the cam­paign pro­mot­ing the cli­mate change reg­u­la­tion.

He makes that pitch right of the bat in his speech taped Fri­day at a Wash­ing­ton hos­pit­al.

“Hi, every­body. I’m here at Chil­dren’s Na­tion­al Med­ic­al Cen­ter in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., vis­it­ing with some kids be­ing treated here all the time for asthma and oth­er breath­ing prob­lems. Of­ten, these ill­nesses are ag­grav­ated by air pol­lu­tion — pol­lu­tion from the same sources that re­lease car­bon and con­trib­ute to cli­mate change. And for the sake of all our kids, we’ve got to do more to re­duce it,” Obama said.

Obama will also take part in a con­fer­ence call with pub­lic health groups on Monday hos­ted by the Amer­ic­an Lung As­so­ci­ation.

His Sat­urday ad­dress delves in­to the cli­mate change part of the cli­mate reg­u­la­tion too. 

“As pres­id­ent, and as a par­ent, I re­fuse to con­demn our chil­dren to a plan­et that’s bey­ond fix­ing. The shift to a clean­er en­ergy eco­nomy won’t hap­pen overnight, and it will re­quire tough choices along the way. But a low-car­bon, clean-en­ergy eco­nomy can be an en­gine of growth for dec­ades to come,” Obama said.

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